FCC Reset Begins January 20th

Posted on December 29th, 2016 by

As readers may recall from last month’s newsletter, we predicted a 2-1 Republican majority at the FCC after President-Elect Trump’s inauguration. In the days after that prediction, we then cringed to read what appeared to be a resignation holdout by Chairman Wheeler in hopes of a Senate confirmation of Commissioner Rosenworcel for a new term at the FCC, the result of which would have likely ended in a 2-2 stalemate at the FCC until such time as a new Republican commissioner could be approved next summer. Our prediction was clearly in jeopardy.

But, alas, the Senate didn’t take the bait, recessing for the holidays without voting on Commissioner Rosenworcel’s pending nomination, and effectively ending her tenure at the end of 2016. Then, Chairman Wheeler announced at the December FCC open meeting that he would resign effective upon President Trump’s inauguration   Voila! Our 2-1 prediction had prevailed.   In the interest of full disclosure, we specifically disclaim any special ability to consult on political matters, or any clairvoyance skill. In other words, we were lucky.

With that in mind, we think that the interim 2-1 Republican majority, probably led by Interim Chairman Ajit Pai, will not sit idly by, but instead will move forward on several fronts. We’ve already seen Commissioners Pai and O’Reilly make various official statements suggesting that the FCC’s new net neutrality rules could take a hit after the inauguration. If anyone knows the specific regulations that have been adopted in the past three years on 3-2 party-line vote, and the impact of those new regulations, it would be the two Commissioners who were in the minority. They are now poised to hit the proverbial “reset” button.